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Bulimia is a disorder in which individuals experience frequent and uncontrollable periods of overeating called binges. It may occur on its own or as a phase of another eating disorder, anorexia nervosa. Unlike other people who overeat, people with bulimia usually cannot stop a binge once it has started. They eat until they are too full to eat any more. After binging, most bulimics purge (eliminate) the food by making themselves vomit or by taking large doses of laxatives to help empty the bowels. Thus, most bulimics do not gain weight. 

Many more women than men suffer from bulimia. The disorder occurs primarily among women from 13 to 40 years of age. Many cases of bulimia disappear after a few weeks or months, but may recur. Other cases last for years without interruption. Health risks associated with bulimia include damage to teeth and gums from the acid in vomit, persistent sore throat, and dehydration. 

Bulimia has long been regarded as a psychologically based disorder caused by childhood experiences, family influences, and social pressures. As yet, little scientific evidence supports this widespread theory. However, group therapy, a technique of treating psychological disorders, has reportedly helped many bulimics stop their binge-eating. Research suggests that some cases of bulimia may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. In various studies, treatment with antidepressant drugs has helped many bulimic patients gain partial or full relief from their symptoms.


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